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Manyokole woes escalate

Business

…as anti-corruption officers are roped in for corruption

Mohloai Mpesi

The suspended Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) Director General Mahlomola Manyokole’s woes have intensified after he was linked to corruption and money laundering charges this week.

This follows his loss of an appeal case where he had challenged the former Minister of Law and Justice Nqosa Mahao and Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s endeavour to stage a tribunal against him to test his fitness to run the directorate.

Manyokole (41) confirmed to this publication on Wednesday that he was denied free bail at the Magistrate court where he paid a bail of M3000 after being read the charges of corruption and fraud in connection to the appointment of the Victoria Hotel curator bonis, Motsobane Putsoa last year.

The anti-corruption unit boss is charged alongside the Head of Asset Recovery Unit Peter Matekane (accused 1) Putsoa and one Mokorotlo Communications for contravening Section 21 (3) (b) of the prevention of corruption offences acts 5 of 1999 as amended by act of 8 of 2006.

Putsoa was crowned a curator bonis for Victoria Hotel under his company, M Putsoa and Associates after the DCEO through its Asset Recovery Unit seized the hotel which was owned by the late Thabiso Tlelai under his Sobita Enterprises which ran the hotel over two decades, and the directorate claimed to have established the corruption, money laundering and fraudulent activities by the company.

According to an affidavit by DCEO’s Tsotang Likotsi last year June during the seizure at the Victoria Hotel; on December 16, 2002 the GOL entered into contract sublease agreement with Sobita Enterprises, and Tlelai was at all material time director and shareholder of the company. The renovating, upgrading and furnishing of Victoria hotel was to be the responsibility of Sobita which was expected to spend the maximum amount of M2 000 000, and upgrade the hotel within three years after commencement date like Don Suite Hotels of South African based Don Group Limited.

Sobita’s contract was extended on April 13, 2012 according to the affidavit for the period of 10 years with effect from July 1, 2013 to June 31, 2023 and was signed by the former Minister of Finance Timothy Thahane.

In a Memo dated 13 February 2019 from the legal department of Ministry of Finance to the Principal Secretary it is discernible that Sobita was not honouring its obligation to pay monthly rentals. And that it had failed to respond even after having been requested to.

The Memo clearly advised for the termination of the contract on the basis of no-payment of rentals, nullity of an addendum for extension of the contract on the basis of no-registration in terms of the Deeds Registry Act, 1967, and illegal trading of Sobita on the basis of being struck off from the company registry.

This week the charge sheet released from the Magistrate court stated that Manyokole, Matekane and Putsoa have shared common intentions to instigate corruption, fraud, theft and money laundering activities.   

“In that or about June 10, 2020 and at or near Director on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) offices in Maseru, accused 1 and 2 sharing a common intention or purpose to purse an unlawful act together, and in pursuance of such common intention, did intentionally abuse the functions or positions of their offices, in the performance or failure to perform an act, in violation of any way, or in the discharge of the functions, for the purpose to obtain undue advantage for themselves or another person, to wit, by appointing as curator bonis for Victoria Hotel, M Putsoa and Associates, an audit firm duly de-registered with LIA in terms of Accountants Acts 1977, in violation of Procurement Regulations and/or administration of Estates Proclamation 1935, for the purpose of obtaining undue advantage for M Putsoa and Associates,” the court paper reads.

“The said sharing a common intention or purpose to pursue an unlawful act together and in furtherance of such intention or purpose deliberately made a false representation or concealed from another a fact which in the circumstances they duly had to reveal, with the intentions that such a person should act upon the representation to their detriment and thereby causing them to so act; to wit, by representing to the High Court in CIV/183/2020, and recommending that the court appoints M Putsoa and Associates (represented by Matsobane Putsoa, accused 5) as curator bonis for Victoria Hotel, that due process of the law has been followed in identifying and finally recommending M Putsoa and Associates is or are not fit and proper to carry out the task of curatorship, with the intentions that the court should act upon the said representation to the detriment of the government of Lesotho  and the government of Lesotho did act upon the said representation and suffered actual loss in the tune of M3, 858.74,” the court papers continue.

However, Manyokole dyed-in-the-wool that he has been remanded with seven others and that they are expected to go before the Magistrate court on May 31, 2021. 

“I went to court this week and I was remanded. I was denied free bail and was charged M3000 for bail. We are seven, although I don’t know the rest except Matekane and Putsoa who was appointed a curator.

“I have been accused of fraud and abuse of power and we are expected to go before court on May 31 since the investigations are still on-going,” he said.

“An employee of the DCEO and the Head of Asset Recovery Unit, did unlawfully, intentionally and knowingly fail to disclose his interest and or nature of his interest in the undertaking or dealing in which the Directorate relating to the appointment of Matsobane Putsoa of M Putsoa and Associates whose business associates, Ikhetheng Matabana, he has business and personal relations with, and recommending that accused 2 appoint M Putsoa and Associates as curator bonis for Victoria Hotel. The accused thereby commit the offence of corruption.

“In that on or about July 23, 2020 and at or near M Putsoa and Associates offices in Maseru, the said accused, sharing a common purpose did unlawfully and intentionally embezzle, misappropriate or divert for his benefit or for the benefit of another, any property, public or private funds, securities or any other thing of value entrusted to him by virtue of his position, to wit, by effecting payment of M11, 532. 47 in favour of M Putsoa and Associates to Lesotho Institute of Accounts (9080003208601) from M Putsoa and Associates (curator bonis Hotel Victoria (9080007252303), an account entrusted to him by virtue of position his position as curator bonis of Victoria Hotel. The accused did thereby commit an offence of Corruption,” the court papers read.

“In that between 10 June 2020 and January 2021 and at or near Victoria Hotel in Maseru, the accused 3 and 5 being business associate and partner respectively in M Putsoa and Associates, accused 6, did unlawfully, intentionally and knowingly fail to disclose his interest and or nature of his interest in the undertaking or dealing in which M Putsoa and Associates proposed to deal and participated in proceedings relating to dealing and decision, to wit by participating in the proceedings of M Putsoa and Associates relating to the appointment of Mokorotlo Communications to offer services to M Putsoa and Associates and Mokorotlo Communications benefited monies in the amount of M177, 770. 00. The accused did thereby commit an offence of corruption.

The papers continue that “…in that between 10th June 2020 and January 2021 and at and near Victoria Hotel in Maseru, 3 and 5 of being business associate and partner respectively in M Putsoa and Associates, an audit firm appointed as a curator bonis for Victoria hotel and thereby entrusted to administer and take care of such property, did acquire, posses, use property, convert and use monies in the amount of M104, 520.00. From M Putsoa and Associates (curator bonis Victoria hotel) account 9080007252303 into Mokorotlo Communications (Ltd) PTY account 908000422871, with the aim of concealing and disguising the illicit origin or true nature of that property, movement, or ownership of the said property. Knowing or having reason to suspect that such property is derived directly or indirectly from the acts or omissions which constitute an offence in Lesotho or outside Lesotho, to wit conflict of interest as contemplated by section 28 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences act 1999 as amended. The accused did thereby commit an offence of Money Laundering.

“The accused 3 and 5 being business associate and partner respectively in M Putsoe and Associates, transferred monies in the amount of M20, 000, M30, 000 and M53, 250 from Mputsoa and Associates account (9080007252303) into Mokorotlo Communications (908000422871). And the monies amounting to M28, 500, M41, 000 as well as M33, 800 from the same account to Relebohile Lesholu’s personal account (9080000117680) with the aim of concealing and disguising the illicit origin or true nature of that property, movement, or ownership of the said property. Knowing or having reason to suspect that such property is derived directly or indirectly from the acts or omissions which constitute an offence in Lesotho or outside Lesotho, to wit conflict of interest as contemplated by section 28 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences act 1999 as amended. The accused did thereby commit an offence of Money Laundering,” the papers read.

“In that upon or from 2017, the exact dates unknown to the prosecutor, the said accused, having been de-registered as a member of Lesotho Institute of Accounts (LIA), did unlawfully and intentionally practice or hold himself out as a public accountant, tax consultant, tax adviser or any other like description, to wit, by offering accounting services to St. Joseph’s Hospital knowing and or having reason to believe that he has been de-registered with Lesotho Institute of Accounts since May 2016 for failure to pay his dues.

“In that upon or from 2017, the exact dates unknown to the prosecutor, the said accused, having been de-registered as a member of Lesotho Institute of Accounts (LIA), did unlawfully and intentionally practice or hold himself out as a public accountant, tax consultant, tax adviser or any other like description, to wit, by offering accounting and auditing services to Qoaling High School knowing or having reason to believe that he has been de-deregistered with Lesotho Institute Accounts since May 2016 for failure to pay his dues. The accused did thereby contravene the provisions of the Act as aforesaid,” the paper concluded.

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